Basilica del Cobre

Basilica del Cobre

Basilica del Cobre El Cobre Santiago de Cuba 2015/El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba Province, Cuba/A lovely structure nestling in palm-studded forest 18km northwest of Santiago, the imposing cream-coloured, copper-domed Basilica de la Caridad del Cobre houses the icon of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad, Cuba’s patron saint, and is one of the holiest sanctuaries in the country. Pleasingly symmetrical, with three towers capped in red domes, the present basilica was constructed in 1927, on the site of a previous shrine. Inside, the icon has pride of place high up in the altar, and during Mass looks down over the congregation; at other times she is rotated to face into an inner sanctum reached by stairs at the back of the church, where another altar is always garlanded with floral tributes left by worshippers.Soon after her discovery, local mythology endowed the Virgin with the power to grant wishes and heal the sick, and a steady flow of believers visits the church to solicit her help. A downstairs chamber holds an eclectic display of the many relics left by grateful recipients of the Virgin’s benevolence, including a rosette and team shirt from Olympic 800m gold medallist Ana Fidelia Quirot Moret, as well as college diplomas, countless photographs and, most bizarrely, an asthmatic’s ventilator. Read more: www.roughguides.com Stunning as it materializes above the village of El Cobre, Cuba's most revered religious site shimmers against the verdant hills behind. Having been recently renovated – along with many other of Cuba's churches – the church's interior is impressive; light, but unostentatious with some vivid stained glass. The existing basilica was built in 1927, though a sanctuary has existed on this site since 1648.Despite an almost unending line of pilgrims, many of whom will have traveled from as far as the US, the church maintains a respectful silence and is overlooked by La Virgen who resides in a glass case high above the altar. For such a powerful entity, she's amazingly diminutive, some 40cm from crown to the hem of her golden robe. Check out the fine Cuban coat of arms in the center; it's a wondrous work of embroidery.In a small chapel at the side of the basilica you'll see a small collection drawn from thousands of offerings giving thanks for favors bestowed by the virgin. Clumps of hair, a TV, a thesis, a tangle of stethoscopes, a raft inner-tube sculpture (suggesting they made it across the Florida Straits safely) and floor-to-ceiling clusters of teeny metal body parts crowd the room.Follow the signs through the town of El Cobre to the Monumento al Cimarrón . A 10-minute hike up a stone staircase brings you to this anthropomorphic sculpture commemorating the 17th-century copper-mine slave revolt and now the location of one of Cuba's most important Santería gatherings in July, Ceremonia a las Cimarrones (part of the Fiesta del Caribe). Views are superb from up here; walk to the far side of the sculpture for a vista of copper-colored cliffs hanging over the aqua-green reservoir.Read more: www.lonelyplanet.com/El cobre Santiago de Cuba visto desde un Drone
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